Oct. 12, 2008
DALLAS - Volleyball coaches often say that the game is all about momentum and being able to bounce back when that momentum shifts to the team on the other side of the net. On Sunday afternoon in Dallas, however, the Tulane University volleyball team did not need to worry about that.
The Green Wave failed to score the first point in their Conference USA match against SMU at Moody Coliseum, but trailed just once the rest of the way as Tulane claimed a 25-16, 25-18, 25-14 victory. Tulane hit a season-best .469 with 52 kills and just seven errors in 96 swings as the Green Wave improve to 13-5 on the year and 5-1 in C-USA play. SMU, meanwhile, falls to 11-10 overall and 3-4 in league action.
"Today we got better at recognizing that we have an advantage over a team, playing a clean game of volleyball and allowing that advantage to win the match for you," Tulane head coach Liz Kritza said. "We did not have to go back and forth and let momentum swings occur. I thought we did a very good job of that as a group and our setters did a good job, too.
"Our overall team hitting percentage is important because we were more efficient and made fewer errors. There were times (earlier in the season) when we had this many points, but our errors were dragging our hitting percentage down. Today, they understood a little better on how to stay in system and how to get that kill - even if it was the second or third swing. That is progress."
Senior middle blocker Jen Linder connected at a .909 clip for the match after posting 10 kills and not committing an error in 11 swings. She also added a service ace, a solo block and one block assist to finish the day with 12.5 points. Every Tulane regular to attempt a kill hit at least .300, including a .444 clip by senior outside hitter Sara Radosevic.
Senior right-side hitter Bridget Wells led Tulane with a match-high 13 kills while Radosevic and junior right-side hitter Ksenija Vlaskovic each tallied nine. Radosevic paced the Tulane defense with 13 digs while senior setter Luna Rebrovic led the squad with 28 of their 48 assists.
Tulane jumped out to an early 7-3 lead in the first set and never looked back. SMU hung around, matching the Wave point-for-point in the middle portion of the stanza. But with Tulane leading 19-14, the Green Wave posted four consecutive kills and a block to take control of the set and cruise to a nine-point win.
The second set was a different story early on as the two teams traded the first eight points before Tulane staked claim to a 10-6 lead. The Mustangs hung tough and answered each of Tulane's points with a score of their own, but could never slide into the Wave's lead. The Tulane advantage slowly grew as the set progressed as the Green Wave took a commanding 2-0 advantage in the match.
The third set, however, was all Tulane. The Green Wave scored the first six points of the stanza and made it a 10-point affair at 16-6. The lead hovered between nine and 11 most of the remainder of the set and Tulane clinched the match on a kill by Vlaskovic.
"I told them before the third set that the idea was to go out there, play as efficiently as possible, make sure we stay focused and stay in system for as many points in a row as we can," Kritza said. "I thought we did that very well."
Kendra Kahenek led SMU with nine kills while Carly Bergquist paced the club with seven digs. Natalie Peters led the Mustangs' front-line defense with three solo stuffs, and Kellie Becerra had 15 of the team's 33 assists.
The Green Wave return to action on Tuesday, Oct. 14, when they play host to cross-town rival UNO at 7 p.m. in Fogelman Arena. That contest is one of three home matches for Tulane during the week as the Wave host C-USA foes East Carolina and Marshall on Friday and Sunday, respectively. For ticket information to those matches, as well as future Green Wave athletic events, contact the Tulane University Athletics Ticket Office at 504-861-WAVE.